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UN-backed pact against cluster munitions to take effect from August

16 February 2010 – The United Nations-backed convention banning the use of cluster munitions will enter into force on 1 August after the 30th country ratified the pact today, a move that was immediately welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as “a major advance on the global disarmament agenda.”

Burkina Faso and Moldova both submitted their instruments of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at UN Headquarters in New York, ensuring that the pact prohibiting explosive remnants of war known as either cluster munitions or unexploded ordnance (UXO) becomes part of international law.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said the fact that the Convention was entering into forces just two years after countries adopted the treaty “demonstrates the world’s collective revulsion at the impact of these terrible weapons.”

First used in the Second World War, cluster munitions contain dozens of smaller explosives designed to disperse over an area the size of several football fields, but often fail to detonate upon impact, creating large de facto minefields. They are also notoriously inaccurate.

The failure rate makes these weapons particularly dangerous for civilians, who continue to be maimed or killed for years after conflicts end. Some 98 per cent of victims are civilians and cluster bombs have claimed over 10,000 civilian lives, 40 per cent of whom are children.

Recovery from conflict is also hampered because the munitions place roads and lands off-limits to farmers and aid workers.

Mr. Ban called on all States that have not yet ratified to become a party to the Convention immediately.

“The United Nations is firmly committed to ending the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions and mitigating the suffering they cause,” he said.

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